Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

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Fed up with celebrity chefs drizzling sauces over undercooked pieces of meat? I am!

I regularly dine out and am happy to share my restaurant experiences, and views on food, with you.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Restaurant

Mama Amalfi
18 George Street
Croydon

Phone:- 0208 688 5787

Overview

Eva and I made a reservation for 9:00PM Saturday night. We arrived on time and were shown to our table.

This was poorly situated, being positioned at the left hand side of the archway leading from the bar to the main restaurant area. It was far too close to the table behind it, had I sat down I would have been bumping chairs with the person behind me. Eva’s position was no better; her chair was squashed (by the table) far too close to the wall behind her, and on her left was a large plant which would have intruded into her personal space.

Needless to say we did not accept the table, and requested a better one. We were told that the restaurant was busy, and that there were no others..very much a take it or leave it attitude! We left it, and went elsewhere.

Here is a list of points that I suggest the management address:

1. When a restaurant accepts a booking they should ensure that they can accommodate the customer; if it is full then don’t take the booking.

2. Don’t assume that customers will accept being crammed into their tables, in the manner of a fast food chain, we (the customers) won’t accept that.

3. Should the restaurant be busier than anticipated when the booking was made; then apologise, offer a drink at the bar and ask if the customer would be prepared to wait.

4. Mama Amalfi has seating in the basement, as well as on the ground floor. Should the restaurant be in a fortunate position of being busy on the ground floor, then open up the basement and offer people some decently spaced tables.

Needless to say we will not bother returning, until the management prove to my satisfaction that they have addressed these issues. Your choice guys, you will be out of business if you don’t!

Overall Opinion

Don’t waste your time or money going there, Croydon is overflowing with restaurants, many of which still remember that the customer should not be taken for granted.


Friday, November 15, 2002

Restaurant

Quaglino’s
16 Bury Street
London
SW1Y 6AL

Phone:- 0207 930 6767

Overview

Quaglino’s claims to be one of London’s trendier restaurants; based in the heart of The West End, it offers a restaurant, bar and private dining room on two open plan floors.

I was out last night for a few drinks with three chums from my days in KPMG, and we found ourselves looking for something to eat at around 9:00PM. Our first choice, Rowley’s in Jermyn Street, was full; so we ambled along to Quag’s.

Ambience

The restaurant and bar is decorated in the modern “in your face” style. I am more of a traditionalist in taste, and I have to confess that the size/height of the room and the half glazed ceiling resembled a cross between a greenhouse and a barn. Some tables were laid with tablecloths others were not, these unlaid tables were bright red and presumably there to add colour. The private dining room situated on the top floor overlooks the restaurant, and resembles the directors’ boxes one sees at football stadiums.

The bar is situated on the top floor, and to one side of this there was a jazz band playing reasonably decent tunes.

When we arrived we were greeted by one of the many staff (all dressed in black). He seemed concerned that we had not booked, and that in order for him to check to see if we could be accommodated he pressed us to have a drink at the bar first. One of my chums politely, but firmly, pointed out that there were quite a few empty tables and that we would take one of these now “thank you very much!”. We were shown to a red table (obviously for naughty people who don’t do as they are told).

Menu

The restaurant offers a reasonably varied menu comprising amongst others; pork, rabbit, chicken livers and steak.

Service

The service is professional and efficient. When we sat down we were promptly offered our menus and bread. Rather oddly there were no side plates for the bread; I assume, therefore, that Quag’s is so proud of its hygiene they feel you can eat off the table directly.

Food

I started with chicken livers on rösti potatoes, with a rocket salad. I have to say these were very well cooked; succulent, tender and lightly pink. The rösti, which can sometimes be greasy and unpleasant, was cooked to perfection. I chose the roast shoulder pork with apple sauce as my main course. I have to say that this was quite good, a good sized portion of pork had been sliced reasonably thinly and was presented on a plate with a thin (in my view slightly overpowering) jus/gravy; together with good quality crackling and apple sauce. A side dish of traditional chips (not fat drenched reconstituted fries) came as an accompaniment.

One of my chums also opted for starter, the crayfish, which he seemed pleased with. The main courses that my friends opted for were, pork, steak with a bernaise sauce and saddle of rabbit.

The steak was tender and cooked slightly rare, I tested it and think it was good. The sauce bernaise was absolutely superb; rich, creamy and one hell of a big portion! We all ended up dipping our chips in it!

The rabbit was generous, two thickly cut saddles and by all accounts tender and tasty.

I finished off with an Irish coffee, which was good, and a small chohiba panatela (cigar to you and me); this was sold by a very short skirted cigarette girl (more reminiscent of restaurants from the fifties) who kindly chopped the end off for me. I would say that the price, £12.50, was an absolute disgrace. Next time I will ask the price first!

The overall meal, which included one bottle of Casa Merlot, two Irish coffees, my cigar and a glass of wine came to £146 including 12.5% service and a mysterious £1 “street smart” charge (whatever that is, could someone enlighten me?).

Overall Opinion

Overall I would say Quag’s is a bit of a curate’s egg, the food is good but in my opinion it is overpriced and the ambience is not to my taste. I suppose for that part of London we could have been ripped off in worse places; so as my father would say “you pay’s your money and takes your choice”.


Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Restaurant

The Grand Divan
Simpson’s in the Strand
100 Strand
London
WC2R 0EW

Phone:- 0207 836 9112

Website
http://www.simpson’s-in-the-strand.com

Overview

Simpson’s is part of the Savoy group (indeed the hotel is next door) and is one of London’s top class restaurants, offering traditional English cooking; breakfast, lunch and dinner. It comprises a number of restaurants, function rooms and bars on two floors.

Myself and three chums from university went to the Grand Divan (the restaurant on the ground floor) on Monday night, for a boys’ night out.

Ambience

The restaurant is traditional in décor, attitude and service; which resembles a gentleman's club from the Victorian era. The dining room offers tables or booths, all are fully laid with white tablecloths, linen napkins, silver cutlery and a variety of glasses for water and wine.

As befits a quality restaurant, that prides itself on its cuisine, Simpson’s expects people to take pride in their appearance, as a courtesy to others; as such you are required to wear a jacket and tie.

When we arrived we were courteously greeted by one of the many waiters, and shown to our table. The restaurant was almost full, and so it is advisable to book.

Menu

The restaurant offers an extensive menu comprising traditional British dishes such as roast beef (carved on the trolley), potted shrimps, rack of lamb, steak and kidney pudding and steamed sponge pudding.

Service

The service is attentive, courteous and professional. When we sat down we were promptly offered our menus, bread rolls and napkins which were unfolded and placed on our laps.

Within five minutes of receiving our gin an tonics, one of my friends had succeeded in knocking his over. Instead of fussing over changing the tablecloth we were promptly offered another table, instead of disturbing us by relaying the table with us sitting there.

Food

I started with smoked salmon, simply served on a large plate with a slice of lemon and buttered brown bread. This was very good, and an ideal starter if you are following on with a heavy meal. My main course was an easy choice, roast beef from the trolley. The joint is carved in front of you, and you are offered a choice of well done or rare. The chef is happy to carve as much or as little as you wish.

I opted for a large portion together with and extra slice of fat, very unhealthy but absolutely mouth watering. The beef is served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and cabbage. Should you wish other vegetables the menu offers you a choice. Additionally, they are flexible enough to provide you with things not on the menu, for example you can even order bubble and squeak. The food was excellent, the beef succulent, tender and flavoursome; clearly it had been properly hung thereby allowing the flavour to mature and the meat to tenderise naturally.

My friends opted to start with potted shrimps, but all went for the same main course. Dessert was easy, four steamed sponge puddings with custard. Very sweet, moist and filling.

We finished off with some malt whisky.

The overall meal, which included two bottles of Croze Hermitage, four gins, four whiskies and mineral water, came to £275.

Overall Opinion

Definitely one of the more reliable London restaurants, well worth a visit by locals or tourists.